UFC 102 features two MMA veterans fighting for a shot at the UFC heavyweight title. Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture (16-9) will fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (31-5-1) in Portland, Oregon on August 29, 2009. Couture and Nogueira are coming off knock out losses. ‘The Natural’ lost the UFC heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar in November 2008 via TKO and Nogueira lost the interim heavyweight title to Frank Mir in December 2008.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has superior Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills. Once he grabs an arm or leg of an opponent, the fight will most likely end by submission. Nogueira has fought only thrice in the UFC. In his first fight, he beat Heath Herring by decision then he submitted Tim Sylvia via guillotine choke in his second outing.
Even though Nogueira is known for his boxing skills, he is very susceptible to strikes. In his win against Tim Sylvia, he was knocked down two times; against Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic, Nogueira lost the first round due to strikes but walked away with the win; and in his last fight against Frank Mir, Nogueira had no answer for Mir’s stand-up game.
UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy Couture is 2-1 in his last three fights. Couture’s strength’s are his Olympic-level wrestling skills and ground-and-pound. He is still considered a major player in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions because people can never count Couture out. In fact, he was willing to drop down to light heavyweight to challenge Lyoto Machida for the title.
His recent loss to Brock Lesnar has shown he has lost a full step. Couture could not score with strikes and was unsuccessful in taking Lesnar to the mat.
Couture has to wear down Nogueira by taking him to the ground because I honestly don’t see Couture scoring a knock out victory over Nogueira.
Randy Couture has devastating ground-and-pound, if he can avoid submission attempts by Nogueira, Couture will be able to do some damage on the ground. Remember, Nogueira does not like being pressured when on the ground as seen in his fight against Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor busted him up pretty good with ground-and-pound.
However, if Couture is not careful, Nogueira will execute a submission move from any position on the mat. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira needs to effectively utilize his striking skills against Couture. Nogueira also needs to avoid getting in the clinch with Couture because Couture is effective at scoring take downs when in the clinch.
The winner of this fight will determine who will fight Brock Lesnar. But if the UFC can get Fedor Emelianenko to their side of the fence, Fedor will get first dibs on the UFC heavyweight championship.